September 6, 2019: The Faraday Institution announced on September 4 that it will award up to £55 million ($68 million) to five UK-based consortia to conduct research to make step changes in battery chemistries, systems and manufacturing methods.
The new projects in four focus areas join the existing Faraday Institution research projects. This expanded portfolio has the dual aims of improving current generation lithium ion batteries as well as longer horizon materials discovery.
The Faraday Battery Challenge is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to help transform the production of batteries for the future of electric vehicles in the UK.
The five new projects which will run over four years are:
• Next generation electrode manufacturing – Nextrode.
The University of Oxford will lead a consortium of five other university and six industry partners to examine the way electrodes for Li-ion batteries are manufactured. By understanding how materials assemble as electrodes are cast, and developing new manufacturing tools, the consortium aims to usher in a new generation of smart, high performance electrodes, which could enable EVs with a longer range and batteries that are more durable.
The project’s principal investigator is Patrick Grant, a professor of the University of Oxford. Other university partners are University of Birmingham, University College London, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton and University of Warwick.
• Next generation lithium ion cathode materials.
The biggest performance gains to Li-ion batteries are likely to arise from changes to the cathode chemistry. The Faraday Institution is funding two project consortia.
FutureCat – This project is led by the University of Sheffield with five other university and nine industry partners. It has a coordinated approach to cathode chemistry design, development and discovery (including tailored protective coatings and designer interfaces) to deliver cathodes that hold more charge, that are better suited to withstand prolonged cycling and promote ion mobility (increasing battery durability and range and acceleration of the EV) while reducing the dependency of cell manufacturers on cobalt.
The project’s principal investigator is Serena Corr, a professor at the University of Sheffield. Other academic partners are University of Cambridge, University College London, Lancaster University, University of Oxford and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
CATMAT – Led by the University of Bath with six other university and 12 industry partners, this project will examine the fundamental mechanisms at work within novel cathodes that currently prevent the use of nickel-rich cathode materials (with low or no cobalt) and lithium-rich cathodes.
The consortium plans to exploit this new knowledge to inform the discovery of novel cathode materials with enhanced properties. It will scale up the synthesis of the most promising new materials and assimilate them into fully integrated battery cells to demonstrate performance.
CATMAT will be led by Saiful Islam, a professor at the University of Bath. Other academic partners include University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge, University of Liverpool, University of Oxford, University College London and Diamond Light Source.
• Next generation sodium ion batteries–NEXGENNA.
This project, led by the University of St Andrews, will include five other UK partner laboratories, three industrial partners and collaborations with Diamond Light Source and five leading overseas research institutes.
It will accelerate the development of sodium ion battery technology by taking a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating fundamental chemistry right through to considerations for scale-up and cell manufacturing.
The relatively low cost of sodium ion batteries makes them an attractive next generation technology, particularly for static energy storage applications and low-cost vehicles.
The NEXGENNA project will be led by John Irvine, a professor at the University of St Andrews and will have contributions from Lancaster University, University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Sheffield and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
• Alternative cell chemistry beyond lithium ion – LiSTAR, Lithium-Sulfur Technology Accelerator.
UCL will lead an effort with six other university partners and seven industrial partners to enable rapid improvements in Li-S technologies. If the potential of Li-S is realised it would take batteries for automotive and other applications beyond the inherent limitations of Li-ion chemistry: Li-S is one of the most attractive alternative technologies available.
The principal investigator of this consortia is Paul Shearing, a professor at UCL. Other consortia partners are Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, University of Southampton and University of Surrey.
The new projects will create nearly 80 new positions for early career researchers, many of whom are expected to move into battery science and engineering from other fields.
The 32 industrial partners involved in the projects announced have pledged a total of £4.4 million in in-kind support. The terms of the awards are currently being finalized.